A controversial waved off tying goal in the third period left Bemidji boys hockey painfully short of coming from 3-0 down in an eventual 4-2 loss to East Grand Forks on Saturday at the Bemidji Community Arena as part of Bemidji Hockey Fights Cancer Day.
Both teams opened with disciplined shifts defensively, but East Grand Forks struck off a turnover behind the Jacks’ net that led to a goal for Chase Moe at 8:19 of the first.
The Green Wave doubled the advantage only 1:14 later with an unassisted wrist shot by Grady Magner that beat Alex Schaefer in Bemidji’s goal after a quick rush.
Trouble only grew for the Lumberjacks with just over a minute to play in the first when the Green Wave took a 3-0 lead off a tally that was eventually credited to Brock Schultz.
The second period saw Bemidji begin to recapture more of the form that had the Jacks entering the afternoon on a seven-game winning run. However, puck luck would prove to be against the hosts, beginning with a shot from Nick Johnson that glanced off the crossbar.
The Jacks were again inches away from scoring when the puck slipped past EGF goaltender Chase Mero, only to be swept out of the crease before crossing the line.
A third-period power play was the catalyst for Bemidji’s rallying effort, as it produced a close-range goal by Nick Yavarow at 1:55 that was set up by Cael Knutson and Noah Mannausau.
Just under two minutes later, Gunnar Olson took a feed from Max Fankhanel and Austin Coe and backhanded a shot past Mero to draw the Jacks within one and notch his first varsity goal.
The game’s most controversial moment would follow just seconds after Olson’s tally. Bemidji yet again poured numbers into the offensive zone on a rush and Wyatt Mattfield flicked a wrist shot past Mero during a scrum around the crease. The linesman along the goal line quickly determined that the goal would not stand due to the dislodging of the net during the play, despite a strong case from the Lumberjacks that the puck had either been moving toward goal prior to the movement of the net or that it had already crossed the line when the net came off.
Bemidji’s surge of momentum slowly faded during the middle and late stages of the period, but the Lumberjacks again created a threat with their third line when Fankhanel and Olson nearly connected again during a hard skate up ice.
The final minute of play saw the Jacks pull Schaefer for an extra attacker, giving the Green Wave’s Jace Van Eps an opening to score into the empty net after the visitors had absorbed another push from Bemidji.
Schaefer made 27 saves on 30 shots seen as EGF posted a 31-26 advantage in shots on net. The win was the sixth in a row for the Green Wave, who handed the Lumberjacks their first defeat since Dec. 22.
Bemidji drops to 10-7 and will next visit Cloquet on Friday for a 7pm game.
💜Thank you Bemidji community for a successful day fighting cancer together. Our fight continues all season long! To donate, use the QR code below⬇️ pic.twitter.com/cduLT3ebAy
— Bemidji Hockey (@BemidjiHockey) January 23, 2023